By David Bowman
How often have you been undermined as a leader, or in EOS® terminology, as an LMA™ (a responsibility on the Accountability Chart that represents Lead, Manage, and Accountability)?
This happens for a variety of reasons, from a variety of different people, in a variety of different seats within an organization. Often, it’s one of the people you LMA who doesn’t like an answer, a direction you’re setting, or just likes drama and gossip. We often say within EOS that when it comes to accountability within the system, “There’s no place to hide.” To the extent that some don’t like being held accountable, this triggers a far-ranging set of behaviors, including gossip and politics.
The flip side of the coin is the one who allows this to happen; usually, one that has LMA over you or even a peer who provides a sympathetic ear to those who talk about others. Leaders who allow themselves to wittingly or unwittingly entertain these types of conversations, or who don’t have the discipline to overcome their likes or susceptibility to the drama and gossip of others, are doing themselves, the organization, and you a great disservice.
I can’t think of a single, more destructive, less productive, accepted cultural behavior that takes place in organizations. It often happens early in one’s EOS journey as a legacy from the old operating system as you transition to the new. As with everything EOS, it all starts with the Leadership Team, often with the Visionary™ being the biggest culprit. It is the nature of the Visionary to be more emotionally driven and, therefore, more likely to “buy-in” to someone else’s angst. They are often also to be the most influential of all, but not the only Leadership Team member who gets sucked in.
Handpicked Related Content: Got People Issues?
In a more loosely run organization transitioning to EOS, there are many opportunities for people to be upset. They may view the Accountability Chart as political or status hierarchy, in which they are not in the “higher seat” that historically they felt entitled due to time in the organization, educational degrees, or even their last name in a family run business.
How to Solve the Problem
The best response that I recommend people get good at deploying is first to say, “Did you put it on your Issues List?” The next critical question that should become a given in your organization is: “Are you going to tell them, or am I?” This is a great way of reminding people the only person who can effect change is the one they are having the issue with. Ninety percent of the gossip in organizations can be cured with these two questions.
If it’s really a challenge for you not to get sucked into other people’s conflict, I recommend a technique that I suggested to a Visionary of mine to help them; I had them create a two-way placard for when someone came in their office with the same four questions on both sides:
- Did you put it on your Issues List?
- Do you just want me to listen?
- Do you need my advice?
- Do you need my help in solving the issue?
- Are you going to tell them, or am I?
- Listen to our podcast episode on “Utilizing the Scorecard” here.
- Download a free chapter of Traction® by Gino Wickman.